BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — In U.S. District Court in Buffalo on Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Dr. Eugene Gosy to 70 months in prison, ending a four-year legal fight.
Gosy, a Williamsville pain management physician, operated one of the largest practices of its kind in New York State. The practice saw thousands of patients. As a result of his work with that practice, Gosy was indicted on 114 counts in April 2016, accusing Dr. Gosy of improperly prescribing controlled substances. The indictment accused Gosy of pre-signing blank prescriptions for others in his practice to fill out, failing to properly review patient files and reports, operating a "script line" for prescription refills that was attended by individuals with no medical training, and maintaining patient records that had incorrect or insufficient information to "justify a diagnosis and warrant treatment."
The following year, Gosy was charged with additional counts in a superseding indictment that accused him or contributing to the death of six patients. Under these original charges, Gosy faced a maximum sentence of more than 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors dropped 88 charges in December of last year, and Gosy was set to go on trial at the beginning of this year. However, in January, right before his trial, Gosy instead chose to plead guilty to two counts in a deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office. Gosy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to unlawfully distribute controlled substances and health care fraud.
The guilty plea reduced Gosy's recommended sentence to six-and-a-half years in prison and a $250,000 to $1 million fine.
On Thursday, the court sentenced Gosy to 70 months, just eight months shy of the recommended sentence. A judge also ordered Gosy to spend three years on post-release supervision. Gosy must surrender himself to U.S. Marshalls and begin serving his sentence by November 13th.
It was brought out during the court action that Dr. Gosy could be facing a serious medical condition and needed more tests before reporting to jail. The judge agreed to let Dr. Gosy voluntarily surrender in November.
Two different pictures were painted during the sentencing of the 60-year-old physician who started practicing medicine 30 years ago.
Government prosecutors said Gosy was a man who lost control of his practice, was taking short-cuts in prescribing narcotic painkillers, failed to do proper examinations, and ignored red flags for patients showing signs of addiction. They added that Dr. Gosy conspired in a scheme where patient documents and billing to the NYS Insurance Fund were signed by others in the office when Gosy had either not seen the patients or had been out of the country.
"He unlawfully distributed poison to those who should not have received it," a government attorney told U.S District Court Chief Justice Frank Geraci, Jr.
Defense attorney Joel Daniels disagreed. Daniels told the judge that Dr. Gosy was committed to helping people and often worked 90-hour weeks. But the practice became "too large too fast" as 40,000 patients had been referred to Dr. Gosy from physicians all across WNY.
Daniels added that Gosy was the "Go To" guy when it came to pain management.
A large stack of letters supporting Dr. Gosy were sent to the court by former patients and fellow doctors.
Victims also wrote letters, including Loretta Jones, who addressed the court and blamed Dr. Gosy for causing the death of her 48-year-old daughter who was under his care. "I feel like he got away with murder," said the distraught mother.
Joel Daniels then explained to the court that the Jones' matter had been the subject of a medical malpractice jury-trial that found Dr. Gosy not responsible for the death.
There was also a lengthy discussion about Dr. Gosy's pre-sentence report which included details about six patient deaths that were part of the original indictments. Even though those counts were not prosecuted, because a plea arrangement had been reached, they could play a factor in what federal prison the doctor would be sent to.
Daniels said he hoped Dr. Gosy could be sent to a minimum-security prison and worried that the references to the deaths would see Dr. Gosy placed in a higher security facility.
Justice Geraci agreed to allow the addition of explanations to the pre-sentencing report to help the Federal Bureau of Prisons better understand the situation.